Greetings from a land down under where the season of spring is in full flow, and so am I!
Welcome to my 66th blog. It’s been a while, I know. I hope you’ve all been keeping OK, whether forging ahead with achieving your goals or simply getting by – whatever the case might be, we all get to where we need to be, one day at a time. During the past week, I’ve been excitedly working with a wonderful web designer called Evelyne Matti who, in addition to being a source of enormous support and inspiration, has also got me up and running with a brand-new website! I hope you like it. I owe it to you, my loyal subscribers, to ensure your visit to my website is an enjoyable one.
Where is the sun?
The month of August was a tough one for me. Being the last month of winter here in the southern hemisphere, the cold and rain seemed to drag on forever and I longed for the warmth of the sun and inspiration of spring bursting with colour that stimulates my mind and helps my creativity. And then it happened! It’s why I love the seasons. They are predictable and something to hold on to when I feel lost and confused. So much about being human baffles me at the best of times but Mother Nature steps in to remind me that there is an order to this universe and there are things we can be certain of. That brings relief, for sure.
I was walking George the Groodle through the park yesterday and bumped into a fellow dog-lover who had at least ten little bags filled with doggy-poo dangling from his arm. His dog is only little, so it meant the fellow had been busy clearing the mess left behind by other dogs. The thing is, this fellow who cleans up the mess, happens to be our local ‘drunk’. He is the guy you see staggering around the suburb day and night, can of booze in hand, sometimes singing to himself, but always accompanied by his beloved canine friend. He is also the nicest man you could meet. He lives alone but thanks to his dog, he finds connection with other dog-owners during his multiple visits to the park each day. I have had the pleasure of getting to know him over the past five years or so. When I first met him, I was still a wine-guzzler myself and used to feel a bit uncomfortable around him. Looking back, I realise it’s because he triggered a deep fear within me that one day, I might end up like him – alone, unkempt, a bit smelly, with rotting teeth and staggering around in broad daylight with a drink in my hand.
But now that I’ve been sober for close to three and a half years, I no longer feel uncomfortable around him. In fact, I love to chat to him and hear his take on things. We regularly have a bit of a moan about people’s lack of care when it comes to cleaning up after their dogs, sighing in harmony at their obvious addiction to their phones which prevents them from being present to the movements of their furry companions. Then we discuss the astronomical cost of taking our dogs to the vet and how we wish our dogs could talk to us about what ails them.
Sometimes my friend talks about his unhappy childhood as he knocks back his second or third can of the morning and of how his father was a tyrant who he feared all through his life. Recently he told me that he’s been copping abuse from other park-users who judge him for drinking in public and try to make him feel shame for being a drunk. Accounts like this make my face redden with rage. How dare anyone judge him! Apart from being a gentle soul who I’ve never heard raise his voice, he is kind to all the dogs who approach him and knows each of them by name. I want to protect him from those who judge him. I tell him that I don’t judge him, that I understand what it feels like, and I remind him that he is just as good as anyone else.
To change or not to change – either way, it’s scary!
I’ve noticed that he has moved from beers to cans of rum ‘n coke. His drinking is his business. Up to a point. One day last week, I spotted him trying to cross a busy road with his dog in tow, but the dog wasn’t on the lead and there were trucks and buses travelling at speed. I raced over and rescued the dog. At times like this I get the urge to broach the subject with him of his drinking. So, the following day I mentioned what had happened on the road and how concerned I was about the dog. I delicately told him that if anything happened to his dog he’d be devastated because I know how much he loves him. I emphasise that I am not judging him but genuinely concerned for him and his dog. Then I asked him upfront if he has ever considered talking to someone about his drinking. He knows that I have managed to overcome my own drinking issues and I talk about how much better I feel since I stopped drinking. Yesterday he came bounding towards me, poo-bags dangling about his person, telling me that he is cutting back. I was pleased, obviously, but at the time same, I felt obliged to ask him to speak to his doctor to make sure he isn’t putting himself at risk of any serious withdrawal effects. Change can be scary. We all need to have supports in place when we decide to try and turn our lives around. I told him that I am here if he ever needs someone to talk to.
Seeking temporary relief
What I realise about this man is that he is a highly sensitive person, probably an empath. I see some of myself in him. He means well but he becomes overwhelmed due to his extreme sensitivity. Substances such as alcohol and other drugs can and often do provide us with a temporary relief from the pain overload but eventually, they stop working and the feelings come back with a vengeance. Hangovers were the unravelling of me. I was angry, shameful and depressed because, not only did I have the physical impact of alcohol to contend with, I also had to deal with the return of the suppressed pain. When I stopped trying to suppress that pain, and chose to face it instead, I was able to understand where it came from. It never fully went away but I have learnt to acknowledge it, accept it as part of who I am and move forward anyway. The good news is that joy resides on the other side of that card we are dealt. Like yin and yang – darkness and light, you really can’t have one without the other.
My everlasting truth
I’m going to use these native Australian flowers (see photo) known as Everlastings to draw an analogy for you with regards to sobriety. When these flowers bloom, and are watered, they bring a lot of joy, but they die off quite quickly. When they are cut and dried out, their beauty remains and will last for a very long time. Cutting ourselves off from the supply of something we have become dependent on is hard and it can only happen at a time that is right for us, but when it does happen it will bring immeasurable joy that will make all the pain and effort worth it. However hard it might seem at the time; we owe it to ourselves to believe that a better life is possible. Mother Nature created each of us to go forth in wonder and experience life at the deepest level, with an open heart that is ready to give and receive love no matter what went before. Every new day that dawns is a chance for each of us to feel the joy of laughter, life, and love.
As requested by some of you, I now provide an audio version of this blog on my YouTube channel which you can listen to by clicking this link. I hope you get something from my blog today. Please share it with others as it might bring some hope and encouragement to those who need it.
Thanks for being here. Love, Gill x